Ty Ross singled home pinch-runner Jared Foster to cap a two-out, two-run ninth-inning rally as LSU defeated Alabama 3-2 in an elimination game of the Southeastern Conference tournament at Hoover (Ala.) Metropolitan Stadium on Friday afternoon.
HOW THEY SCORED
LSU third inning - Tyler Moore walked. After Ross flied out to leftfield, Andrew Stevenson bunted Moore to second base. Sean McMullen doubled home Moore. LSU 1, ALABAMA 0
Alabama fifth inning - Ben Moore walked. Mikey White tripled home Moore. After Austen Smith struck out, White scored on a single by Brett Booth. ALABAMA 2, LSU 1
LSU ninth inning - With two out, Christian Ibarra singled. Foster ran for Ibarra and scored on a double by Moore. Ross singled home Moore. LSU 3, ALABAMA 2
LSU WASTED SCORING OPPORTUNITIES
Fourth inning - Mark Laird beat out a ground base to first base for a single. Alex Bregman flied out to leftfield and Mason Katz struck out. Raph Rhymes reached when rightfielder Ben Moore dropped his fly ball. Ibarra was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Tyler Moore grounded out to first base.
LSU HITTING STARS
Four Tigers players - McMullen, Laird, Katz and Ross - had multiple-hit games. But, the three biggest hits came with two out in the ninth inning. After Rhymes hit into his third double play of the game, Ibarra singled. On a full-count pitch, Moore drove in Foster with a double up the gap in right centerfield. Ross followed with his second hit of the day - a ground ball single into leftfield which brought home Moore with the winning run. McMullen was the only Tigers player to get a hit with a runner on base until Moore and Ross did the trick with two out in the ninth.
LSU STARTING PITCHER
After a poor outing against Ole Miss last Saturday, Ryan Eades bounced back with a winning performance. He allowed one run and four hits with one walk and four strikeouts in seven innings. The one walk, which opened the fifth inning, led to the two Alabama runs. Eades permitted just two runners to reach base in the other six innings. With LSU trailing 2-1 in the sixth, Eades got Kyle Overstreet to fly out to Laird in rightfield and struck out Ben Moore with a runner at second base. Laird made a diving catch on Overstreet's fly ball. Eades had allowed five runs and eight hits in his regular season start against Alabama. In four of his last five starts, Eades has given up two runs or less.
Unlike the previous game against Arkansas, the Tigers relievers were outstanding Friday. Nate Fury, who picked up his second victory of the year, threw a perfect eighth inning with two strikeouts. Chris Cotton struck out the side in the ninth - the Tide's 2-3-4 hitters - to register his 14th save.
After being the home team in the first two games of the tournament, LSU batted first Friday against Alabama. . .LSU used the same lineup for the third straight game in the SEC tournament. . .The Tigers put the leadoff batter on base in each of the first five innings - single by McMullen in the first, single by Katz in the second, walk to Moore in the third, single by Laird in the fourth and single by Ross in the fifth. Both McMullen and Katz were erased when Laird and Rhymes hit into double plays. . .LSU hit into four double plays - three by Rhymes. . .Katz, who was 2-for-8 in his last three games, had three singles in four at-bats. . .Ibarra was 3-for-29 before delivering his two-out single in the ninth. . .Ross, who had two hits, was 1-for-12 going into the Alabama game. . .McMullen and Laird, two lefthanded batters, each had two hits off Crimson Tide righthanded starter Mike Oczypok. McMullen was 3-for-16 going into Friday's game. Laird had just one hit in the first two tournament games. . .Bregman, who went 0 for-4, had his hitting streak end at five games. . .Rhymes, who was 0-for-4, has only two hits in his last 15 at-bats. He has grounded into 12 double plays this year. . .During the regular season, Oczypok had thrown just six innings against SEC teams. Oczypok, who was relieved after Moore's game-tying double, was charged with all three runs and ten hits in 8.2 innings. . .Reliever Jay Shaw gave up the game-winning hit by Ross. . .The Tigers were 3-for-4 with runners in scoring position - RBI hits by McMullen, Moore and Ross. . .White had two of the Tide's four hits. . .For just the second time in school history, LSU has 50 victories before the NCAA tournament. The 1986 team also had 50 victories going into the NCAA tournament. . .The Tigers have five consecutive victories against Alabama in the SEC tournament - all since Paul Mainieri became coach. LSU has won four of five games against the Tide this season. . .LSU has a 10-2 record in one-run games this season. . .Alabama is 34-26. The Crimson Tide should receive a NCAA tournament bid Monday.
FROM THE LOCKER ROOM
Coach Paul Mainieri
"What a tremendous ball game. Ryan kept us in the game and gave us a chance. It was frustrating at times because we thought we had good at-bats. Ty Ross would have hit one out of the park, but the wind prevented that. Our defense kept us in the game. Their pitcher surprised us a little. He had a hard sinker and threw many strikes. Tyler Moore stepped up and came through for us."
(on Eades' performance) "His command was much better today. He threw a lot of first-pitch strikes. He only threw 72 pitches which is amazing.
(on team's offense) "I give credit to their pitcher. He was really good. He pounded the strike zone. In the first four innings, we had the leadoff hitter on base and we scored only one time. I don't think we were tired. Our kids were excited to play. I wish we had the day off, but I'm glad we played today with the way things turned out. It was an emotional boost for our team. The win is going to give our team confidence going forward."
"This was the biggest game of the season for us up to this point. I wanted to make adjustments after my start last week and improve. I wanted to keep my team in the game and pitch as long as I could. Our goal is to pitch the entire game. When the ball is taken from us, we have confidence in the bullpen to get the job done."
"Their pitcher was getting a lot of ground balls. He had a great game pitching to his strengths. We eventually got to him late. On my hit, I swung hard and hoped something would go in the gap."
"Their pitcher mixed pitches well the entire game. He gave us a little trouble, but we rallied back with a few hits and got the win."
LSU will play Arkansas in a semifinal game of the SEC tournament on Saturday at noon. The Razorbacks (37-19) had Friday off after winning their first two games in the tournament. The Tigers and Hogs have split their four meetings this year. Mainieri is undecided on the Tigers' starting pitcher.